19-20 August 2016

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Lot 126

1954 Arnolt-Bristol Bolide Deluxe Roadster by Bertone

  • Chassis no. 404/X/3075
  • Engine no. BS1/MKII/278
  • Body no. 5876

Sold for $445,500

130 bhp, 1,971 cc Bristol OHV inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, double wishbone front suspension with transverse leaf spring, live axle, A-bracket, radius arm and torsion bar rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 96 in.

  • One of just 142 largely hand-built over a seven-year production run
  • Spectacular restoration by marque specialists
  • Shown at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
  • Eligible for vintage racing and club events worldwide

In 1952, Midwestern foreign car importer S.H. “Wacky” Arnolt went to the Turin Motor Show in Italy and met Nuccio Bertone. There he saw a sample coupe and cabriolet, built on MG TD chassis and resembling miniature Ferraris. Sensing a winner, Arnolt struck a deal for MG chassis to be shipped directly to Turin, fitted with coachwork, and then shipped stateside. At $3,195, Arnolt was able to sell every one that Bertone could produce, a total of 100 “Arnolt-MGs.”

Inspired by his success, in 1953, he approached the Bristol Aeroplane Works, which, along with fighter planes, was building limited-production, high-performance 2-litre coupes and dropheads. The Bristol engine was based on the tried-and-true pre-war BMW 328 design, which was well-known within racing circles, and speed equipment was readily available to upgrade performance.

Arnolt married the Bristol 404’s 96-inch-wheelbase chassis with a body styled, once again, by Bertone, who created uniquely flamboyant lines with high swooping fenders. The transmission and brakes were borrowed from the earlier 403 model, with a tuned version of the 2-litre hemi-head Bristol BS1 Mark II engine producing 130 horsepower; the box-section chassis used a transverse-leaf front suspension and a live rear axle. Weighing only 1,800 pounds, performance was excellent; 0 to 60 mph was quoted at 8.7 seconds, and a top speed of 110 mph was possible. Near-perfect weight distribution and decent road manners made the car perfect for the track, though Arnolt originally intended it to be a street car.

The Arnolt-Bristol nonetheless quickly proved its mettle—Freddie Wacker tied for the E Modified Championship in 1954 in an Arnolt-Bristol and in both 1955 and again in 1956. Arnolt-Bristols finished first, second, and fourth in their class at the 12 Hours of Sebring and repeated the win with lightweight aluminum cars in 1960.

Because Arnolt-Bristols were built largely by hand and in limited quantities, just 142 were constructed over a period of seven years, with 130 being sold, as 12 were destroyed in a Chicago warehouse fire.

The car offered here is one of approximately 80 Arnolt-Bristols that remain extant today. According to its restorer, Jack Farland, it began life as one of two cars owned by a husband and wife who fancied themselves club racers. The couple sold his car in the late 1950s to another enthusiast in Illinois, George Adamaek. Mr. Adamaek raced the car until 1966, then stored it in his garage for nearly five decades before selling it to Mr. Farland, who passed it thereafter to the consignor.

Farland Classic Restoration of Englewood, Colorado, then undertook a meticulous nut-and-bolt restoration of the car to its original condition, reportedly taking approximately 6,000 hours. The car was completely disassembled, going so far as to remove the aluminum skins from the framework of the hood and trunk so they could be properly repaired. According to the restorer, parts are very difficult to locate because of the rarity of these cars, yet they managed to locate an amazing collection of parts that had been collected over 30 years. Many of these parts were actually new old stock (NOS), with original labels still attached. This enabled the restoration team to painstakingly piece this car together using the period-correct clips, clamps, and Wentworth nuts and bolts. There was even a perfect-condition original radiator that was able to be utilized from this collection of parts. Even more significant was the loan of an unrestored, near-perfect original car that is two serial numbers removed from this car. The son of “Wacky” Arnolt was kind enough to ship the car to the shop so that they could make sure the integrity of the design was met.

The original engine block was deemed unsalvageable; a brand new recreation block and head were sourced directly from England and stamped with the original engine number. This new engine has slightly more horsepower and torque than the original, which makes the car quite a treat to drive. The rear-end transmission and all braking systems were rebuilt. A new wiring harness was created, and the original gauges and steering wheel were beautifully restored. The unusual leather on the interior of the car is an exact duplicate of the original leather that was found in the car as it was disassembled. The beautiful, medium-shaded red and cream exterior colors were chosen specifically by the original owner of the car.

Debuted at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the car was driven on the 75-mile Tour d’Elegance, reportedly performing flawlessly. It was subsequently named by Bloomberg News as one of the Most Beautiful Cars from Pebble Beach 2015. Shortly thereafter, it was shown at the Santa Fe Concorso, where it received both Best in Class and Most Elegant Open
Car honors.

Ready to be shown, driven, or toured with confidence, this is inarguably one of the nicest Arnolt-Bristols in existence today.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more